‘A giant collaboration with the world’: The Poetic Journal

‘A giant collaboration with the world’: The Poetic Journal

Experiment with chronicling the present moment and refresh your poetic practice as we explore the poetic journal.

Free-running, flexible, ever-evolving – the poetic journal departs from other poetic styles through its organic approach to composition, with little regard for externally-imposed structures. The genre emerged from the Beats’ encounters with Zen Buddhism and Japan’s literary tradition of poetic diaries and pillow books, but it was also informed by elements of the American canon, such as Henry David Thoreau’s journals.  

‘As a form/genre […] more concerned with process than finished products or discrete poems, the journal provides an all-embracing container for a wide variety of materials’, writes Tyler Doherty. By design, the journal form records the poet’s everyday encounters, acting as a vector for the writer to develop a particular kind of attention. Michael Rothenberg describes the poetic journal as a ‘giant collaboration with the world, when you can gather up trinkets of experience and paste them all together, and find a movement, a story happening’.  

This course will centre a loose lineage of New American poetry, from Philip Whalen to the next generation of poets such as Joanne Kyger, Michael Rothenberg, and Tyler Doherty. We will trace back some of their earlier sources and develop our own practice of observation and poetic record-keeping, taking our notebooks with us in our daily encounters to experiment with this ‘free and open form’ where ‘anything and everything can go onto the page’ (Joanne Kyger). 

We will also look at more contemporary iterations of the poetic journal as we experiment with chronicling the present moment in a fluid form that does not answer to strict stylistic constraints. Our writing practice will focus on opening up our senses to different environments and various times of day to develop a more portable writing habit that makes use of the unexpected, the unintended, the unfolding.  

Once we have gathered plenty of material in our journals, we will also discuss how to break down chronologies, identify loose themes, and locate throughlines to reshape flowing stanzas into more distinct poems, without losing the open-ended energy the form allows. The course will refresh your poetic practice by providing a free space for experimentation and exchange and give you a new approach to developing a regular writing habit.

5 fortnightly sessions over 10 weeks. No live chats. Suitable for UK & International students.  

To apply for a concessionary rate, please send relevant documentation showing your eligibility for one of our concessions to [email protected] Conditions of eligibility are detailed here. If you have any questions or wish to be added to the waiting list of a sold-out course, please email [email protected]. For more information visit our Online Courses page. 

Image Credit: Joanna Kosinska

About Danne Jobin View Profile

Originally from the Swiss Jura, Danne Jobin holds a PhD in English from the University of Kent in Canterbury and has an interest in trans & nonbinary poetics, collage, and the practice of poetry as a form of magic. Danne’s poems have been published in Magma, harana poetry, Datableed and Tenebrae. They have performed at the Poetry in Aldeburgh festival, for the 87 Press and Datableeder. Danne has also reviewed books for the Poetry School, Wasafiri, Ambit, Transmotion, and the Journal of Postcolonial Writing. Danne vlogs regularly on their YouTube channel Poetology and organises workshops on collage and poetry. They also support writers and artists through creative coaching.

'It was like finding a group of friends you could trust with your creative vulnerabilities.’

– Autumn 2022 survey response

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